February -- Birthday season commenced. Benjamin turned 9 and is into dinosaurs, business, and how dinosaurs can make a good business. He's in 4th grade now and growing like a weed. Sam's birthday was next. She is 7 now, looking forward to being baptized, got her ears pierced, and was invited to join the pre-competitive gymnastics team.
March -- Birthday season continued with Reillee turning 5! She is brilliant and organized and basically a mini-me, except cooler. She is also on the gymnastics team. EmJ then turned the magical 13! And I died inside a little realizing that I have a teenager. This month also brought us the news that our landlords were going to sell our house, which initiated a full 6 months of negotiations, keeping the house clean, dealing with realtors, and other injustices that I won't go into, but weren't very fun. Thank goodness we got to take a trip this month to Seattle to attend Alivia's wedding!!
April -- I celebrated my 33rd birthday, and Kaylyn celebrated her 3rd. She is as cute as a button, but still doesn't talk much. Even so, she is constantly asking for homework and wondering when she can start school. :)
May -- A challenge. We started by celebrating Joshua's 11th birthday. He was happy to join 11 year old scouts, but happier still to be (the star player) on a championship baseball team. He rocked the season, to the point where the other teams were scared of his pitching. Win! Toward the end of May, Luke herniated a disc in his back. While he was flat on his back (literally, didn't move at all) for 16 days, I prepared for and attended all the end of the school year activities, concerts, and graduations, baseball playoff games, carried out our YW Conference, kept the house "show-ready" for our oh, so thankful landlords, and nursed poor Luke. Turns out, I am not a very good nurse and he is an even worse patient. Even now, his back still gives him grief, but we are thankful that he has mostly healed. Seriously, though, that was an awful few weeks!
June -- School ended and we kept busy going to various doctors, chiropractors, and surgeons. Oh so fun! We also spent part of every day at the pool...(because, of course, the house had to stay clean)...and spent the rest of the days discovering every hiking trail in the area.
July -- We headed up to Seattle again, this time for a family reunion. It was a great break and chance to spend time with both sides of the family! July also brought Girls Camp for EmJ and scout camp for the boys.
August -- I spent the month getting ready for school, as I am now homeschooling both EmJ and Joshua. We also continued to spend as much time as possible at the pool, except for EmJ, who spent the summer apprenticing at a ranch. All her best friends are horses!
September -- A new year of school was ushered in...K, 2, 4, 6, 8...and our days grew crazier than ever. School, gymnastics, tae kwon do, horses, running club, piano, science class, dorky homeschool co-op, scouts, seminary, young women....whew! By Labor Day, we were exhausted, just in time, of course, for our landlords to finally sell our house. So, we spent the month packing and moving, all while pretending we could keep up our normal routines.
Fortunately, we found a large house right down the street, and while we don't love the house, the neighbors are outstanding and the landlords have been more than fair and generous.
October -- We moved everything in to our new home and skedaddled off to the Bahamas! This was a surprise trip for the four older kids, and I'm pretty sure they loved it. We got to see my grandma and aunt, go to St. Augustine, and then eat ourselves silly on our cruise! The beach at Nassau was gorgeous and I wanted to stay forever.
Except, we were missing a third of the family. Reillee, Kaylyn, and Matthew stayed home with my angel mother making memories that I hope they never forget...at least, Reillee won't forget them. My mom came and played hard with the kids for 10 days: barbies, magic clip dolls, books, stories, and HOURS at the park. She taught Matthew the ever important skill of turning around backwards to climb down the stairs, suffered through each child's bout with the stomach flu, and unpacked the kids bedrooms and the kitchen. She got to attend Reillee's first-ever gymnastics exhibition. Can I be more grateful for her? I think not! When we arrived home, she welcomed us home and then kissed us all goodbye in a quick exchange as she headed off to her next Grandma assignment. That was the last time we'd see her in this life.
October continued with LASIK surgery and recovery. What a miracle! And then dressing up as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for Halloween. Luke was Prince Charming, of course!
November -- We finally got settled into our new place and new routines, and we celebrated all that we were thankful for. We had both a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (my gravy turned out beautifully!) and our traditional lunch of finger foods and turkey sandwiches. Overkill, surely, but festive.
December -- On December 3, my mom passed away suddenly. I headed right up to Seattle and relish the time I got to spend with my dad and siblings. Luke and the kids came a few days later and we spent nearly a week up there. This Christmas has been somewhat muted, but in a Spirit-filled kind of way, which makes it sweet. We've said many times that our hearts are empty, but full.
And so we head into 2016 with a renewed commitment to emulate the example of mom, in service, in obedience, in faith. (Clearly, this goal doesn't start until Jan 1 because let's be honest, I'm sitting here yelling at the kids to leave me alone for just 5 more minutes, please!!!!)
Merry Christmas to you and warmest wishes for an amazing 2016!